In the world of horology, few timepieces can claim the heritage and influence of the ZENITH El Primero. Born in 1969, the El Primero was a groundbreaking high-frequency automatic chronograph movement that redefined precision in watchmaking. One of its most iconic iterations, the ZENITH A386, is celebrated as a milestone in watch design. Now, ZENITH pays homage to this classic with the Chronomaster Original, a modern successor that pushes the boundaries of contemporary watchmaking.
The Chronomaster Original takes the revered A386 design and infuses it with a fresh, modern perspective. One of the most noticeable changes is the striking black tricolour dial, a departure from the traditional creamy-white dial that graced the A386. This daring choice adds drama and sophistication to the historical 1969 case, marking the first time such a dial appears in this 38mm steel case.
To achieve this transformation, ZENITH had to meticulously invert the color scheme, turning elements that were once white into black and vice versa. Even the date wheel in the trapezoid window at 04:30, as well as the 1/10th of a second and 10-second chronograph scales, underwent this transformation, resulting in a harmonious and captivating design.
While the Chronomaster Original maintains the A386’s iconic aesthetics, it integrates a remarkable 1/10th of a second chronograph function seamlessly. The central red chronograph second hand sweeps around the dial in just 10 seconds, advancing every 1/10th of a second. This innovative design allows for intuitive fractional time measurement, setting it apart from conventional chronographs.
The Chronomaster Original’s design pays homage to its historical predecessor. Crafted in a 38mm round bezel-less steel case with a raised and domed crystal, it mirrors the silhouette and proportions of the A386. The pump-style chronograph pushers, faceted lugs, and the mix of radial brushed and polished surfaces remain faithful to the original design. Even the steel bracelet has been thoughtfully redesigned, replacing the open “ladder” design of 1969 with solid links for added durability and comfort.
ZENITH’s commitment to excellence extends beyond aesthetics. The Chronomaster Original is powered by the latest version of the El Primero calibre, the El Primero 3600. With a high frequency of 5 Hz (36,000 VpH), it offers a true 1/10th of a second indication, making it a benchmark of precision among automatic chronograph movements. Furthermore, it boasts an extended power reserve of 60 hours, ensuring reliability and longevity.
The sapphire display back of the Chronomaster Original provides a window into the heart of the watch. The contemporary architecture of the movement reveals a sleeker and more open design, showcasing a blue column wheel and an open rotor adorned with the iconic Zenith five-pointed star.
The Chronomaster Original with the black tricolour dial is not merely a limited edition; it is a permanent addition to the collection. Watch enthusiasts can find it at ZENITH boutiques and authorized retailers worldwide. The bracelet model is priced at $10,000 USD, while the version on a strap is available for $9,500 USD.
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